A Russian hand in Mideast shouldn't rile US

Regarding Daniel Schorr's Dec. 1 column "No time to stall on foreign policy": It is troubling that the recent Russian actions elicit such a reaction from the American public.

The cold war is over. Our leadership has been rubbing elbows with North Korea, one of the most notorious rogue states of the last three decades. It is obvious that we no longer face the rampant spread of communism, or the threat of a red tide washing over our shores. This election trouble may be the perfect opportunity to allow the Europeans and Russians to handle their own affairs.

Many foreigners complain that Uncle Sam sticks his nose in far too many conflicts that do not directly involve him. Our main concern in the Middle East should be bringing peace to a war-torn region, not jostling with an ex-rival for a claw-hold at world dominance.

As a nation, we should be far more concerned with our problems, and perhaps those of our immediate neighbors, than the challenges facing distant allies. The isolationism of old will not work in today's international scene, but we should prioritize; we cannot take care of everyone. Is it really that bad if the Russians want to help?

Eron Earley-Thiele Davidson, N.C.

Some foreign doctorates not up to par

In your Dec. 1 editorial "Doctorates within borders," you mentioned that "Many less-developed nations, such as India and South Korea, have an abundance of PhDs."

Unfortunately, this problem goes much deeper than merely overabundance. When I was living in South Korea, I noticed that PhD programs were much less rigorous.

A Korean acquaintance of mine showed me his "dissertation." It was so short and superficial that it would never have passed muster in an American doctoral program; with help, it might barely have qualified as a master's thesis.

So, not only are PhDs overabundant and impractical, they're also so easy to get that they aren't worth much even from a purely academic perspective.

Ben Gleason Cambridge, Mass.

Politics often drives climate studies

Regarding your Nov. 27 article "Despite stalemate at Hague, talks no futile exercise": Did you know that 17,000 scientists (including hundreds of climate experts) have signed the Oregon Petition saying they see "no convincing scientific evidence" that humans are disrupting the earth's climate?

Evidently, computer models fail badly in attempts to forecast temperature trends. In reality, polar ice has been melting and sea levels rising at seven inches a century for thousands of years. Scientists like Patrick Michaels and Fred Singer at the University of Virginia worry that climate-change ideology and policy too often drive the science, supported by huge sums of government money.

Helen Bates Irvine, Calif.

Iowa's native labor supply

What doesn't make sense to me - and is never suggested in your Nov. 30 article "It's hard to be an Ellis Island amid cornfields" - is why Iowa thinks its fellow Americans are not worthy resources?

There are probably poor people living in depressed inner-cities who would be happy to get out and move someplace where they could get work. And they wouldn't need to learn English.

Immigration is good and should continue. But people will come to the United States of their own volition. If you're looking for help, look at the people who are already here before spending resources to bring in foreign contractors.

Michael Riordan Washington

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Mail letters to 'Readers Write,' and opinion articles to Opinion Page, One Norway Street, Boston, MA 02115, or fax to 617-450-2317, or e-mail to oped@csps.com

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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